Statutes of limitations set time limits for the government to bring criminal charges in a case. If the prosecution charges someone after the applicable time period has passed, the person charged can have the case dismissed.
In Kansas and most other states, violent crimes generally have longer statutes of limitations, and some crimes (like murder and rape) have no statute of limitations—meaning a criminal case can be filed at any time. In certain instances, statutes of limitations are "tolled" (suspended), allowing the government more time to bring a case.
Like many states, Kansas law sets time limits for a host of specific crimes. For crimes not specifically listed in the statute, a general statute of limitations of five years applies for all crimes (felonies, misdemeanors, and infractions).
Below are examples of time limits for specific crimes in Kansas. Keep in mind that the following is a partial list that broadly summarizes the law. You should look at the actual law for nuances, exceptions, and legislative changes—and know that court rulings can affect the interpretation of the law.
(Kan. Stat. § 21-5107 (2019).)
Murder: no time limit
Manslaughter: 5 years after the crime
Vehicular homicide: 5 years after the crime
Rape and aggravated criminal sodomy: no time limit
Sexually violent crimes:
Other sex offenses: 5 years after the crime
Generally, the statute of limitations starts when the crime occurs. But in circumstances where it's difficult to discover the crime or a victim might be particularly scared to report it, the law might delay the starting of the time clock. For instance, Kansas's law doesn't start the clock for sexually violent offenses against a child until the child turns 18 or the suspect's identity is determined by DNA, whichever is later.
Also, if a person tries to "evade" (avoid) arrest for a crime, the law gives the prosecutor extra time to file charges. In Kansas, the statute of limitations is tolled:
Statutes of limitations are confusing to say the least. Plus, the same conduct can be the basis for multiple criminal charges, meaning that more than one limitations period could apply. Consult a knowledgeable attorney in your area to understand how the statutes of limitations apply in a specific case.